Netflix’s latest addition to its true crime canon is a thriller from Ryan Murphy, exploring the case of one of America’s most notorious serial killers: Jeffrey Dahmer.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story stars the actor Mare of EasttownEvan Peters, who plays the man also known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal” or the “Milwaukee Monster,” who murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.
Here are the key points you need to know about the true story behind the show…
**Warning: This article contains disturbing information***
Dahmer was born in 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a ticker-tape machine instructor and a chemist.
There are conflicting reports as to whether Dahmer was neglected as a child or adored, but there seems to be no question that he came from a broken home. His mother suffered from depression and attempted suicide, and his father was absent from school for much of his childhood. Dahmer’s parents finally divorced when he was 18 years old.
Dahmer was a quiet child, who underwent double hernia surgery at the age of three. The family moved to Ohio when Dahmer was about six years old and his younger brother, David, was born.
Dahmer became interested in dead animals, specifically animal bones, from an early age, something that is believed to have started when he saw his father pull animal bones out from under their house. He began collecting insects and the skeletons of small animals, such as squirrels, and preserving them in jars of formaldehyde. His father showed him how to whiten and preserve animal bones, and Dahmer began collecting roadkill so he could dissect them and add more bones to his collection.
In high school, Dahmer was an outcast. He drank a lot and told his classmates that alcohol was his “medicine”. Although the teachers thought he had good academic potential, his grades were average. Having been a quiet young man before, he began to make false attacks and make fun of people with cerebral palsy.
In his early teens, Dahmer had a brief relationship with another teenager, but he did not tell his parents that he was gay. She later admitted that she fantasized about dominating a submissive male partner, and that these fantasies had begun to involve dissecting her.
Dahmer committed his first murder three weeks after graduating from high school, in 1978. One day in June, he picked up 18-year-old Steven Mark Hicks, who was hitchhiking, lured him home for some “beers.” ” and hit him with a dumbbell. Dahmer then strangled Hicks to death, undressed him, masturbated him, dissected the body, and buried the remains in a shallow grave in his backyard. He later dug up the body so he could dissolve it in acid and crush and spread the bones.
Shortly after, Dahmer joined the US Army for a few years. He continued to drink heavily. In 1981 he got out of the army and, in the mid-1980s, back in Milwaukee, he began frequenting gay public restrooms where he sedated men and assaulted them. In the late eighties he committed his second murder; this time it was a man he took to a hotel. He then began to carry out attacks and murders at his grandmother’s house.
Dahmer’s grandmother asked him to move, in large part because of his drinking, his habit of bringing young men late at night, and the foul odors emanating from both the basement and the garage, where Dahmer stored and he got rid of his victims. He moved into an apartment in Milwaukee and the killings and dismemberments continued into the 1990s.
Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of the skeleton.
Despite having been arrested several times in his life, once for groping a child, authorities did not discover Dahmer’s murderous activities until he was arrested after one of his victims escaped in 1991. Running down a Milwaukee street with a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist, Tracy Edwards told police that Dahmer was trying to kill him.
At Dahmer’s apartment that day, police found body parts and severed heads in his refrigerator, freezer, filing cabinet and kettle.
In 1992, Dahmer was jailed for life. He failed to convince the jury that his cannibalism and necrophilia were the result of insanity, even though he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and psychotic disorder. He was given 15 consecutive life sentences and told that he would never be eligible for parole.
His trial included some of the most horrific evidence ever seen in a US courtroom. In his statement in court, Dahmer said: “I never wanted freedom. Frankly, I wanted death for myself. I knew he was sick or bad or both.
“The doctors have informed me about my illness and now I have some peace. I know how much damage I have caused. I feel very bad for what I did to those poor families.”
Dahmer was later sentenced to his 16th life sentence for an additional homicide committed in Ohio in 1978.
On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.
More than 20 years after the incident, Scarver first spoke about why he killed Dahmer.
Scarver said he fatally hit Dahmer twice in the head with a metal bar because the killer made him nervous, saying Dahmer fashioned severed limbs out of prison food and doused them with ketchup packets as if it was blood.
“I put them in places where people were going to be,” Scarver told The New York Post.
“He crossed the line with some people: prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison have regrets, but he was not one of them.”
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story arrives on Netflix on September 22.